“During Rally on the Rocks, we do hand out complimentary earplugs,” said Gloria Santana, a front desk clerk at the Bowen Motel at 169 N. Main Street.
Discount Tire Rally on the Rocks is an annual UTV event that has been held in Grand County for about a decade. This year’s event, held from Tuesday, May 14, through Saturday, May 18, drew more than 500 UTVs to the area, according to the event’s founder and co-organizer Sean Reddish.
Santana said that while it is not noisy inside the motel, earplugs were offered to guests following complaints about the noise on Main Street caused by UTVs. Bowen Motel Owner and General Manager Tyson Lesmeister added that the complimentary earplugs are offered to guests every day and not just during special events.
“Even though we have spent a lot of time and money soundproofing our rooms, you can always hear a little something if you are a light sleeper,” said Lesmeister. “The earplugs are merely one extra step in making sure our guests can have the most quiet and comfortable night’s rest we can offer being on Main Street.”
Rally organizers encourage participants to be good guests. On their website, they state, “Discount Tire Rally on the Rocks is now the second biggest economic event in Moab, UT, behind Jeep Safari. That means that the top two events in Moab are offroad/motorized events. Let’s please be respectful to the residents of the town of Moab and obey all rules and be courteous at all times.”
And, in an interview with the Moab Sun News on Tuesday, May 21, Reddish pointed out, “Anytime a vehicle is on the street for our event, it has a police escort, unless it is fully street legal.”
He said this should eliminate complaints that, “The rally guys are blaring down our roads,” but that it did not mean that other UTV operators who were not with the event would follow the rules.
Motel guests weren’t the only ones complaining about the noise. Sarah Barstow, owner of the Moab business The Rave’N Image, told the Moab Sun News on Tuesday, May 21, that she heard discontent with the noise from a range of people.
“Every person I spoke to this weekend in regard to the Rally on the Rocks UTV event was upset,” Barstow said. “The complaints came from locals and tourists, young and old, longtime locals to more recent residents. People who … themselves have UTVs and enjoy them also complained.”
Barstow said the noise from the off-road vehicles reverberates off the canyon walls, and that she heard from locals and visitors that this sound interfered with their sleep.
“Don’t we have a noise curfew?” Barstow said, adding, “Tourists told me, emphatically, that they will not be returning to Moab.”
Several Moab residents commented on a social media post by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office meant to notify the public of event-related, temporary road closures as groups of UTVs were escorted by law enforcement to and from popular trails.
“Why are unlicensed side-by-sides on the public streets?” read one comment.
“Is the restriction on unlicensed vehicles officially in pause while this is going on?” asked another.
“The only times unlicensed vehicles are permitted to be on the road is during the escorts,” the sheriff’s office replied. “Unlicensed UTVs driving down the roads can be stopped (and several already have been) and cited.”
But one person commented that he frequently sees unlicensed vehicles outside of the escorts.
The sheriff’s office responded, saying, “We do take these offenses seriously and stop any vehicles without proper licensing and safety equipment, such as turn signals. Unfortunately, with the rise of visitations we simply cannot stop them all.”
Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge said the police department did not receive any complaints about the Rally on the Rocks event, but said one person called about traffic and off-road vehicle noise on Mill Creek Drive.